To The Right

In America, we drive on the right side of the road.  Also, people here generally walk on the right side of the sidewalk, busy hiking trails, even grocery store isles. When I walk along the trails around a nearby lake, I keep to the right side of the path.  If I have the trail to myself, I walk right down the middle as if I owned the place.

What is your neighborhood like during the pandemic? Where I am I have noticed giving another pedestrian 6 feet is seen as a courtesy; in the grocery store, offices, parks, etc., keeping your distance is a sign of good manners. It is awkward or rude if a person stands too close to another. Feathers get ruffled.

Earlier this year, before the snowpack in the mountains could build and the rains of the Northwest La Nina winter began, Padden Gorge Trail was dry and quiet. The creek was all but dried up. The cold air chased away many birds and I experienced the eerie sensation of standing in a silent forest.

To The Right
second draft

The woods are quiet today
I do not hear the rustle of a bird
no wind playing at the leaves
no foraging of a rodent
or the panting of a dog
Padden Creek is down to its
late summer trickle
Everything is off

My ears reach for the sound of people
at the lake trail on end with mine
I hear no one
I haven’t been sleeping lately
For a moment I am dream walking
zombified in this quiet wood
with no direction, no purpose
No others to use as a reference
or provide a sense of direction
No validation of movement
or placement

I walk down the canyon trail in silence.
surrounded by silence

Then–they find me
The crunching roar of off-road bike tires
approach me from behind
I move to the right
The joggers with focused steps
and controlled pants
I move to the right
Two dogs and two owners
come at me head-on
I move to the right
Facedown each time to make sure
my breath does not mix with theirs
Behind me I hear the steps of another walker
I move to the right
I’m a slow walker compared to others
I know this walker will pass me
I wait
no walker
Then turn to look
No one

There are two places on these trails
where the sound tricks the ear
My own steps sound like another
getting ready to pass
but it is just me
and my steps
echoing off the walls
of the thick forest

How nice of me to give the same
courtesy I give others
yet, still as sweet

A Noisey Padden Creek

Feature Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Ode to Frayed Lotto Ticket

Ode to Frayed Lotto Ticket

by Shannon Laws

Oh lotto ticket on my fridge
do you know the ways you inspire me
the dreams
the projects
the possibilities
opened in my mind if only once, just once
the two of us found agreement

I buy you knowing I’ll never win you
I buy you knowing your love will never be returned

Yet, I place you on my refrigerator door
and embrace the idea that to love and be loved
is all anyone ever wants



Poem: Hard Truth Surrounded by Dark Chocolate is Better for the Throat

Sleeping Under the Banyan Tree, by Marina Abramovic, 2010


Hard Truth Surrounded by Dark Chocolate is Better for the Throat

by Shannon P. Laws


Paper picks up marbled paint

skims the dream I left under

a tree overnight in the yard


Wet blades of grass are your hair and my head trying to connect

A wire through the two of us relays less than

a pair of cups and knotted string


Black braided rope hangs from the ear

If only you had said yes to dinner


I dreamed I was married to…Denis Leary

Tall, light and handsome Denis Leary


I dreamed I was married to…
Denis Leary


What is this?

The first in a series of dreams where I am married to a famous person was with Denis Leary. Dreams are a surreal forum. These are real dreams dreamt by me, a real person.

My dream book tells me that when a famous person, such as an actor, appears in your dream it is your subconscious relieving itself from boredom.  It is a sign that your life is too boring, not stimulating, and it finds stimulation by sprinkling a bit of fantasy hook ups into the REM.  I will write about them and try to examine their meaning.

Am I Bored?

My radio is in-between seasons, I’m in-between boyfriends, my poetry book is printed and launched and my work at the mill is repetitive.  I suppose I am a bit bored.  Bills are slowly, very slowly, getting paid after a six-month layoff in December.  Order, the everyday humdrum order of living is entering back into my life.


Dream #1

So my first dream in this series, I am “partnered” with Denis Leary.  I’m unsure if we are very close friends, or romantic.  The intimacy in the dream is rated PG, which is endearing.

It is a bright weekday morning, about 9 or 10 a.m. in a quiet city loft.  The walls are brick, wood and plaster, Denis Leary and I are in bed together, fully dressed in loose sleep wear.  It’s a bed big enough to hold our work, laid out over the down bedspread, with laptops, pens, paper, books.  Our legs stay warm under the comforter.  We are relaxed, yet focused on the projects in front of us, we’re drinking coffee, low morning-funk is playing in the living room, the only light is one lamp and sunshine coming through our corner unit windows.

“Wow. Look at this.” I lean over to Denis


“Right here.” I point to a spot on a page. He takes it and reads the short paragraph.

“Well that is a surprise,” he comments

“Right…” I add. Stretching my legs, “Luv, would you like some more coffee, I’m getting up”

“Is there juice? Also, what about those danish things we got yesterday?  Any of those left?”

“Not worried about crumbs?”

“Cheese if it’s still there”

“Itchy crumbs.  Remember that cookie from last week”

“Babe…just a nibble.  On a plate. How about a plate?”


We talk, read and work quietly together and in our own headspace. The dream was more of a sense of place and spirit than actual conversation. A glowing dream about a moment, like minded people, sitting close together in bed and talked about nothing and everything.


Possible Meaning

Judging by the mood and clues in the dream I’m guessing I miss having a connection with someone I view as equal, an intimate equal.  The sense of place and comfort level, of a rich intellectual life full of music, good food, peace is a lifestyle I hope to obtain.

Meditating on the dream, I remembered Sunday mornings at my childhood home.  My brother and I were kids, like elementary school aged, someone would grab the Seattle Sunday Times from the porch (the newspapers were physically thick back then) mom made coffee for her and dad.  All four of us would sit on my parent’s king sized bed in our jammies and robes (dad still under the covers, legs crossed) and read the sections, passing around the funnies.  We would share interesting headlines and talk about the news. A very casual warm family moment.  I don’t have that right now.  Perhaps one day it will return.


Thank you Denis



Poem: Tuesday

Happy is the heart
That thinks on love
Measuring the value of emotion
Feeling the presence of its girth

Your worth to me is more than flesh.
Consideration, admiration of
the thrusting in this world
Carefully selected conversations
meant to keep me a gentle-lady

If you come through the door
And bring an offering
It will be welcome
Friendship preserved

Consider love
Warm love

Its time to sleep
I’ll dream of you tonight

Christmas Card 2014

Holiday Happy Dance

Merry Christmas from the

S.P. Laws staff!

-Shannon, Brad, Vin, Robert, and Byung-hun

Click HERE to view our holiday card in Super-High-Speed Definition™


So, how was your 2014?  What a mixed bad of nuts, right.  

A large group of protesters stage a “die-in” on the street in response Monday in Seattle to the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. Photo: JORDAN STEAD, SEATTLEPI.COM

Robots went to Mars, the Rosetta spacecraft‘s Philae probe successfully lands on Comet 67P, the Ferguson, Mo. ruling (WTH?), the die-ins, Russia hosts the Olympics, Pussy Riot spoke out, Brazil puts on a dynamic show for the FIFA World Cup, the TV news world goes nuts over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the US government continues to play games instead of governing, stunning display of the aurora borealis viewed by people as far south as Seattle, and some dy-no-mite sun activity causing cell/satellite outages.  Fun. Fun. Fun.  You were there, I don’t need to go into detail, but what a strange, wild, wonderful, and horrific year.

Here at the S.P. Laws office we had a… lets call it  “productive” year.  Many improvements are in place to help launch us off into an even more productive schedule for 2015. Here is the years recap:

mayorsartaward poster

2014 started off on the good foot with a breathtaking announcement in April.  A letter came in the mail to officially notify me I was selected for  2013 Mayor’s Arts Award recipient “Poet”, along with many powerful folks in the Bellingham arts community, including my “Writer Idol” Laurel Leigh.  Here we are celebrating at The Temple Bar afterwards with productive and energizing writers Susan Chase-Foster and Janet Oakley.

me, Laurel Leigh, Susan Chase-Foster, Janet Oakley

Also in April I was invited to speak with two lovely poets Jennifer Bullis (Bellingham) and Heather Curtis (Anacortes) for Heather’s book launch “Upon Waking” and for National Poetry Month.  I could not be in better company.  A fine set of poets.

book reading VB april 5

In  June my second poetry book, “Odd Little Things”, was released.  Special thanks to my dear friend and editor Denise DuMaurier for her help.  I edited my first book “Madrona Grove” by myself, in addition to formatting it.  (I’ll never do that again) I learned my lesson.  Editors are good people to know & hire.  Don’t be afraid to use an editor.  My two cents.

oddlittlethings digi cover
“Odd Little Things” June 2014

 “Odd Little Things” is a familiar ride full of piercing moments and wishes. In this, her second book of poetry, Shannon bares all making you feel like best friends at a café sharing secrets. The cycles of life seem to spin like an unforgiving stellar system for this poet. However large or small, everything matters, especially the moments you only share with yourself. Shannon says about her new book, “If ‘Madrona Grove’ is my lover, then ‘Odd Little Things’ is my child.”

Available at Village Books, in store and online at this link: Odd Little Things VB

BTW: This fall a second edition of Madrona Grove was graciously edited by poet master, retired professor, James Bertolino.  Available now at Village Books, click here: Madrona Grove VB


June marked the end of The New Americana Hour’s second season.  It was a double punch to the intellect and heart.  Such an honor to be apart of this program.  I am a volunteer producer for a non-profit radio station in Bellingham, KMRE 102.3 LP, that broadcasts out of the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention.

Sunday afternoon editing session for The New Americana Hour

This season just touched my heart greatly.  It was as if the seed co-host, Jon Winter and I planted last year decided to reward us with a bodacious bloom.  Musician’s approached us hearing about the show from their colleagues, asking to be a guest on it.   TNAH also connected with the Seattle based television program“Band in Seattle”. The success of last years line up and increase of listeners has contributed to two new sponsors for 2015.

To learn more about this pioneering Bellingham program please visit the shows re-broadcasting site on wordpress:

September presented two magnificent opportunities to spread some SPL poetry: 2014 Tagore Festival in B.C. and the official book launch of “Odd Little Things”.

The Tagore Festival is always a treat.  The music, films, history, traditional Bengal clothing and dance ignites the senses!  Carla Shaffer and I were invited to read on the Friday performance.

3 poets Launch sept 2014_SLaws
September Poetry Host Book Launch Bellingham WA

tagore 2014
September Tagore Festival Richmond, B.C.

For my book launch I invited two poet friends of mine to join me.  Now, you know I can fill up an hour’s worth of podium time, however, I saw this as an opportunity to share the space with two of Bellingham’s finest: Carla Shafer and Erica Reed.  Carla is the long time host of Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, and Erica the host of Kitchen Sessions (2012-14), two inspiring open mics in town.  This was the first time, that I am aware of it anyways, where three poetry group hosts gathered to read their poetry for an audience.  Thank you Village Books for providing the space and promotion.  I believe there was a cross-pollination, an intermingling if you will, of poet circles.  Good times.

2014 poetsforpeace 8x11 poster FINAL
September World Peace Poet Event Bellingham, WA poster by Shannon Laws

In September we also hosted the second annual “Poets for Peace, Read-in! Write-on!” event.  This year held on a Friday night.  The program is simple: opening ceremonies, soup/salad dinner, poets and musicians read and sing about what peace means to them.  It ends when the last poet speaks. This is the only peace read-in in Bellingham.  I hosted the event along with my Peace Sisters Carla Shafer and author and poet C.J. Prince.  Watching members from Seattle to B.C. share their peace poems is like a healing, and good massage, calming down the anxiety of questions regarding humanities future.  “World peace starts with me” – peace is to be shared freely.

Peace Sisters: C.J. Prince, me, Carla Shafer planning the 2014 Poets for Peace event.

The last event I was fortunate to be apart of was in November, a fundraiser for the Whatcom Juvenile Justice Creative Writing Project.  Held at the glamorous Encore Room at the Mt. Baker Theater.  The audience was generous and responsive to touching poetry by all artists.  Kevin Murphy was the exclamation point at the end of the evening with his bongo poems that everyone can relate to.  Man, I love that guy!

JV poetry fundraiser
Kevin Murphy, C.J. Prince, Joe Nolting, me, and Mathew Brouwer

What a year.  My writing is a great release, and a reward thanks to a responsive writing and book worm community here in Bellingham.  Connecting with people, my neighbors, sharing intimate work like poetry, music, a smile and a handshake, is like a great reward, an enrichment to my little life.  People are amazing.

This summer I am hoping to expand my readings outside of Bellingham.  I’m hoping for an Anacortes reading, perhaps LaConner, South King County and Seattle.  Just crossing my fingers that time and money will be available for those events.  This December I moved into a tiny apartment.  Like Virginia Wolf, I have a room of one’s own (and kitchen and a bath).  Here is my launching pad for 2015.  I wonder where it will take me?

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Virginia Wolf

Thank you for joining me in my life of writing.

Picture 271
Little room, little desk. Where I type, write and dream. Dream to think ratio 5:3


Poem: Nightly Spirit


spirit 300

Tickle my ear at three in the morning
Brush the bottom of my foot with mist

See the dreams I carry that do not rhyme
Remember the fallen that rest in the corner of the eye
A phase-shift out of reach, stuck in the web of mind

Take the tack off the desk
Move the keys under the couch
Roll the pencil out of reach

But never talk to me as one who is dead,
My breath’s Bank of Days still holds cash

Maria’s Secret Crush

Double Dare
December 2013 I found myself on the dance floor,live band taking up a third of the living room, at a New Years house party, covered in sweat, surrounded by others, who were proportionately sweaty, doing a combination dancing, and shouting out lyrics to classic songs.  Good times.
During the song “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen, I bumped into a writer friend, Maria Mcleod.  “Ready Freddy!” she shouted, “Freddy! That was the name of my secret crush!”  This comment got my attention.  I too had a secret crush in school.   She shared her story, I shared her mine.  We each had a long lasting crush on someone for years, never told anyone. 
The Challenge
“I dare you to blog about your crush.  To tell the world that you loved that guy all those years!” I shouted over the music.  She agreed to the challenge. My story, as promised, is ready and will post this Wednesday.  
-Shannon P Laws

Please welcome, first time guest blogger to Madrona Grove, Maria McLeod


Dreams of Freddy Ingles
By Maria McLeod
In second grade I met a boy I would love forever from afar: Freddy Ingles. My first erotic dream, before I even knew what sex was, would feature the two of us, rolling around together, naked atop a billowy cloud.  I was nine years old.  Forty-one years later, Freddy still visits my dreams, as if we’ve claimed a corner of an alternate universe to continue our would-be relationship. My adult dreams, however, are less fantastical, uneventfully realistic.  I’m making my way through a crowded parking lot, or I’m in the grocery store, picking over produce.  Suddenly there’s Freddy, passing by pushing a shopping cart.  Most of the time, I’m too stunned to speak, but once, in a rare moment of bravery, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked the question I’d wanted to ask all those years ago, “Do you like me?” He began to smile, silently in a way I could not decode.  Then I woke up.
Freddy died in the 1992 at the age of 30.  He still lived in the area where we had grown up, in southeast Michigan about 50 miles north of Detroit.  He was driving a UPS truck.  He had married and had a toddler, a little boy, at the time.  He didn’t make it across the tracks; his delivery truck collided with an oncoming train.  He was airlifted, flown to a hospital whose doctors could not save him.  I hadn’t seen him for over a decade, not since just after high school.  We were at mass and he was waiting in line to receive communion, passing by my pew, probably unaware I was there.  When I heard the news of his death, however, I was living in Pittsburgh and attending graduate school. I remember when my father called to tell me he’d assisted at the funeral – my father is a Deacon –  and Freddy (“Fred” by then) and his family had belonged to the same parish. 

Freddy’s mother, Janet, was a tall woman who seemed sure of herself, one of those kind and efficient mothers who always wore pants and seemed especially capable of raising boys who would grow to tower over her.  Her first husband, Fred senior, had died in 1973, the year before we entered junior high.  I remember this because Freddy became the star of the junior high basketball team.  From the stands, I cheered – as we all did – for every basket he made and every shot he blocked.  Freddy had been caught smoking marijuana in the year following his father’s death.  As a penalty, he’d been kicked off the basketball team, an action I still perceive as I did then: a poor decision by adults too caught up with the rules. 

My father – who has always known the contents of my heart – reported that he’d spoken to Freddy’s mom at the funeral.  He’d said, “Maria always loved Freddy.”  He told me that Janet had responded with a smile, “I know, Bob, I know.” 

I wondered how she knew? Had Freddy known?  Who else knew?  I thought, also, of his wife and child who survived him, the horror and the shock of the entirely unexpected. Death by collision with a train?  How terrible and ironic that this could be the demise of someone who drives for a living, in Michigan, on the roads he’d been driving all his life, in all manner of weather.  And of all people, Freddy?  

I had never told him how I felt.  Not directly.  I never approached him at a junior high dance and asked him to dance with me, not even a fast song when we didn’t have to touch. There had, however, been a couple instances when my affection for Freddy had welled up in me, and I may have given myself away.
In second grade, I climbed up to the top of a snow mound on the playground of Saint Mary’s Catholic school where Freddy and I attended, me in my swish-swish, red snow pants, black rubber boots, and hooded red and pink coat with white piping – Michigan winter wear purchased by my parents at Sears.  When I made it to the top, I stood and peered out over the playground of kids throwing snowballs, playing on the swings, and attempting to traverse the monkey bars wearing mittens. The nuns in their black habits watched in a huddle near the red brick school building, just outside the teachers’ lounge. I scanned the area and thought of Freddy who lived nearby and who walked home for lunch, missing most of lunchtime recess.

Overwhelmed by my longing to see him, I shouted out his name from my would-be mountaintop:  “F-R-E-D-D-Y,” half expecting his name to echo back to me like in the Sound of Music when Maria frolicked in the Alps. It was then I experienced a sudden shove from behind, and went careening down the side of the snow pile on my back, marveling at the spectacle of sky on my descent.  When I slid to a stop, I turned and looked toward the top of the snow hill and, with the sun shining behind him,  there was a silhouette in a spray of white winter light.  It was Freddy, his coat flapping open, his hands bare of gloves. With the brightness behind him, I couldn’t clearly see his facial expression. I had no idea what he thought of my outburst, and I was dumbstruck as to how he could have suddenly appeared there behind me at the exact moment I could no longer contain myself. 

I was not a pretty or popular girl in school, which I realized as early as kindergarten, when social stratification begins to take shape.  I was gangly and clumsy and easily distracted.  I lived inside a series of daydreams.  I had oversized front teeth and a mouth too small to contain them.  I was tall, but shoestring slim.  Kids joked that if I turned sideways, I’d disappear from sight. My nickname was “skinny bones.” 

Freddy, at that age, was already athletic, the youngest boy from a family of handsome and popular older brothers and one older sister.  He was tall, like me, and he had blue/gray eyes and curly light brown hair.  He seemed smart, on the verge of misbehaving, but generally steering clear of the nuns’ wrath.  I could stare at him forever and ever.  In our second grade class, I sat in the front row and found every excuse to visit the back of the room, which was where the pencil sharpener was, next to Freddy’s desk.  After I’d sharpened my pencil one time too many, the teacher had enough and sent me to the “no-no box” as a punishment for repeatedly leaving my seat.  She was sure I was trying to look on other students’ papers for answers.  The no-no box was a panel, separated into four segments, hinged.  It stood about 4 and half feet high, about shoulder level for most adults.  Like the pencil sharpener, it was located at the back of the room, near Freddy, folded into the shape of a box with a chair in the middle.  Most often, it was occupied by the boy who couldn’t stop wetting his pants – a problem the teacher assumed required public punishment.  It was there I sat for God knows how long, crying, mortified.  

The next year my mother and father decided to switch me to public school because they didn’t care for the tactics of the no-no box instructor who carried a can of Lysol, spraying at invisible germs and the kids who spread them.  I couldn’t believe it when I realized that Freddy’s parents had decided to transfer him to my same third-grade class.  That was also the year our mothers had, by coincidence, bought us matching rust-colored turtlenecks.  I wore mine as often as possible, even digging it out of the dirty clothes hamper on the off chance that Freddy might wear his the same day, wedding us in matching fashion.   

  Eddy Elementary had a playground five times the size of Saint Mary’s, a vast open field that stretched well beyond the jungle gym and swing sets, perfect for kids who loved to run.  Freddy, who most often spent recess chasing the pretty, popular girls, would sometimes choose to chase me.  I would stand nearby, and when he began running toward me, I would turn my back to him and run as fast as I was able. 

My legs and arms buzzed and pulsed, and my wispy brown hair lifted and flew in the air.  One time, I tripped on a protruding root of the giant Oak tree, landing on my belly with an “oomph.”  I rolled over to look behind just as Freddy caught up, peering down at me.  We’d never spoken to each other before.  At a loss, I stated the obvious, “I think I tripped.”  He looked at me quizzically, and then stuck out his hand, offering to hoist me up.  We walked toward the school silently, side-by-side.  And, in walking next to him, I felt somehow older, that my world had taken on new weight and meaning. Then Freddy caught sight of another girl he liked to chase, and off he went.  I continued to the asphalt part of the playground where the kindergarteners typically gathered to play duck-duck-goose under the watchful eye of their sixth-grade aides. I put my back to the brick wall of the school and slide down it in a daze.  I was undaunted.  He had taken my hand and pulled me to my feet.  Freddy had touched me.

   Years later, at a school presentation ceremony for the student athletes, Freddy was called to the stage to receive a basketball award.  This was before he’d been kicked off the junior-high team, or perhaps he’d been reinstated.  I don’t recall.  I can only remember that my body shot up from my seat the moment I heard his name.  I stood in the auditorium of about 200 seated kids, momentarily oblivious to where I was, whom I was with, clapping and yelling, “Yay, Freddy.” A row of popular, prettier girls turned and stared at me, incredulous.
Eventually Freddy’s mom remarried, and Freddy transferred school to a neighboring town.  I took driver’s ed., got braces,  my first period and my first job, working at a drug store – nearly all in the same week.  My life opened and reopened, and my daydreams grew to hopes for my adult self, some of which became a reality, like going to college, studying poetry, and becoming a writer.  Boys became men, and my love life see-sawed, until I came upon the man I married in my 30s, another writer, trying to realize his own dreams.  
As for the summer Freddy moved away, I met a boy from a town up river, experienced my first kiss, and forgot Freddy, except for in my dreams, where Freddy is immortal, and I’m still gearing up to say the words I’ve waited too long to speak.  

Guest Blogger: Maria McLeod
Maria McLeod writes poetry, short fiction, and monologues. She teaches for WWU’s Department of Journalism. She also is the author of “Body Talk: Sexual Triumphs, Trials, and Revelations,” a theatre performance produced in Bellingham, Wash. 2012-13.  Maria has performed poetry as part of the following reading series and/or at these venues,: Public Pool, Hamtramck, Mich.; Poet as Art, Lucia Douglass Gallery, Bellingham, Wash.; Poetry Night, Bellingham, Wash.; Parkplace Books, Kirkland; Pittsburgh City Theatre; the Ceres Gallery in New York City; and the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh in 1995.
To learn more about Maria, her projects and writing, 
please visit her web sites:




Poetry: Landmark

stone marker stabbed into earth 
nail cross hammered north to south draws
the boundary once cared for by neighbor’s
need to see where ones property ends another begins
adopted by the city as reference for roads
how many like these are in my mind, metal pierced 
monuments to touch, places to visit before
I go to dream crossing lines
drawn in sand


*Photo: English country side from

Poetry: Spiders Dream

Moths fly in flocks
in my dream, Spiders
ride their backs
binoculars at all eyes.
Predator owns the meat,
venom at the fang
drips down the reins
scopulas grip tight.
The threat of death 
makes moths fly longer 
than they should.
Heavy burden to carry
eight legs more 
your own.
Spider’s spurs
can not keep 
the moth from 
a porch light.
So strong that pull,
positively phototactic!
Oh spider, you can 
ride a moth and 
steer it some,
but never can you 
make it NOT a moth.
You will be bucked
when you fly by night